Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby sleeping options

We started a baby registry. It feels early for one, but this isn't something that we are disseminating at this point. Rather, we are using it as a shopping list/research tracker. We have researched and selected some of the basics that we want--like the crib and stroller and car seat--and added those to the registry for our own future reference. We have also put a bunch of placeholder things on there as reminders that we still need to figure out whether we want them, and if we do, exactly what it is that we want.

Luckily, Amazon is perfect for this. They have pretty much everything ever, and they allow you to categorize your list into "must have," "like to have," and "nice to have." So, I am categorizing as I go. If it is on there as a placeholder and has yet to be decided upon/researched, it is "nice to have." If we know for a fact that we definitely want it, it is "must have" or "like to have."

Basically, it's super convenient. Except that when I look at the registry, my head starts spinning because over half of it is still "nice to have." In other words: we have no freaking clue.

Some things that still fall in the "nice to have" category on our list (and this is not a complete list because looking at everything we still need to figure out at once would probably cause my head to explode, and plus we're only talking about baby gear here, and not all the other stuff we need to figure out, like oh, I don't know, daycare? AGH):
  • Bathing mechanism
  • Cloth diapers (research questions remaining to be addressed: do we want to do cloth diapers? If so, what kind? But that is a subject for another post)
  • Breast pump
  • Bouncy seat
  • Swing
  • Baby monitor
  • Bassinet/co-sleeper
Let's talk about this last one, shall we? I started this conversation last night on Twitter and people had a lot of advice and opinions, which was great, but my head started to spin trying to keep track of all the 140-character responses, so I thought really we should move this conversation to the blog. So here we are!

Here is what we were basically thinking: get the crib. Set it up in the nursery. Try to use it for naps during the day (though according to Twitter the baby will sleep in all sorts of random places, and mostly on me, for at least the first six weeks). Set up some sort of sleeping mechanism like a bassinet or a co-sleeper in our bedroom, within arm's reach for easy access, to use at night.

But everyone has different opinions about this. And here's what it seems to boil down to: every baby is different, and sleeps differently, and has different preferences, and responds well or poorly to different things.

The gall! I mean seriously, why don't all babies come out the same, with an easy set of things to do that they will like and things to avoid that they won't like? And, barring that, I think we should get some sort of, I don't know, advance notice. Like hey, your baby won't sleep for the first six months. Or hey, your baby needs a swing to sleep, ever. Or hey, your baby will scream its head off if you put it in the bouncy seat.

I'm thinking like a weekly update from the uterus? This could also provide some much-desired information on the health and development of the baby. Two birds with one stone!

But, OK, this solution seems unlikely to appear sometime in the next six months (side note: my due date is exactly six months from today!), so let's discuss more realistic options.

First of all, I get it: We can't know. We can try to prepare, and do research and pick what we think will be the best option, but until Piglet gets here and starts showing us what does and doesn't work, we can't know. So we need to be prepared to be flexible.

Second of all: given that half of what we prepare for probably won't work, we'd rather not spend a ton of money on an array of baby products that wind up being totally useless. On the other hand, we don't want to have to stick the baby in a dresser drawer while we try to figure out what will work for it in the long run. A middle ground would be nice.

Third of all: we aren't interested in co-sleeping with the baby in our bed with us. This is the only given we've been able to agree on. It's just not for us. We definitely want the baby to have its own defined, separate sleep space. Even if it's one foot from our bed.

So now what? Do we buy some sort of bassinet or co-sleeper and assume the baby will sleep there at night? Do we try to make it sleep in its crib round the clock? Do we just give up and put the crib in our bedroom from the start? Do we do something else entirely?

Complicating factors: apparently the AAP says the safest place, from a SIDS perspective, for a baby to sleep is in its parents' room? I deal with a SIDS project at work, and I've edited a ton of science-based documents about SIDS prevention, and I had never heard of this recommendation until last night. Does this really make a difference? Or is it some sort of political middle ground? Also, is it really recommended for the baby to sleep in its parents' room until it's six months old? That seems like an awfully long time.

Also, I know that the point of having the kid near you is for middle-of-the-night nursing/convenience, but several people have pointed out to me that after the kid eats, it needs to be burped and have its diaper changed, so you end up getting up anyway. How does this actually work, in reality, from those of you who have been there? Is it really easier to have the kid right there? And if so, where do you change its diaper?

And, people say that their kid only slept in a bouncy seat/hated the bouncy seat/only slept in the swing/hated the swing. Is there a majority that prefers one or the other? What did/does your own kid prefer? And how do you find out if the kid hates the bouncy seat/swing without buying one to try out?

Plus, our house is two stories, with the bedrooms upstairs and the living areas downstairs. Does this mean we will want some sort of downstairs sleeping contraption as well? Will a bouncy seat/swing be sufficient, assuming Piglet doesn't hate both these things, or do we want a Pack N Play/bassinet/dresser drawer/I don't even know?

I understand that we can't answer all these questions before the baby is born, really I do. But my question really is, what CAN we do before the baby is born? Can we try to figure out what would work best for us, and plan for that, on the off-chance that the Piglet will comply with whatever sleeping situation we set up first? Are there certain things we can/should have on hand in advance? And what can wait until after the kid is actually here?


  1. I'm in the same position as you - being months away from birth and not really knowing. One thing I do know is, we plan to buy a play yard (i.e., pack n play) with a bassinet attachment. We know we'll have uses for the play yard (i.e., sleeping arrangement when we travel), so it doesn't matter how long (if at all) the newborn uses it.

    Oh and one other piece of advice: make sure you know Amazon's return policy. That way, when you register for things (and I say, register for more versus less), you can return items you know you will not use in favor of items you never thought you'd need.

  2. I love that you are a planner and want to talk all of these things through before Piglet is here. You are indulging my need for talking about babies without having another one of my own.

    I said on Twitter, that I found the bouncy seat to be invaluable. I was such a nervous wreck in those first weeks home alone with Bud that I refused to leave him in the living room if I had to use the bathroom. I ported the bouncy seat everywhere, and there he sat (and later bounced and played) while I peed, or showered or dried my hair, or even went upstairs to work on the computer.

    Bud was not very big on the swing until he was about 9 months old and realized that he could pull himself forward in it and make it like a ride. Yeah. Lucy hated it for the first few weeks and from then, that was the only place she would nap during the day. And Liv—well, she was (is) such a horrible sleeper, there were times when she spent entire nights in the swing just so I could get some sleep. With her, we upgraded to the one that swings either back to front OR side to side and the side to side worked really well when she was teeny tiny.

    It’s hard at the beginning though figuring out where and what they like to do. Bud and Liv always liked to sleep on me, or curled in the Boppy for naps. Lucy ALWAYS slept on her own wherever it happened to be. When Liv had acid reflux slid down too far when we raised the head of the bassinette, we put her car seat in the bassinette for a while. It’s all about deciding what works.

    For us, Bud and Lucy were in our room for 6 and 10 months, respectively. Liv was out when she was 4 or 5 months old.

    The best thing though Jess, is that you will be the baby’s parent, and hard as it seems at first, you will learn to read the cues and anticipate what they want and need. It’s pretty magical.

  3. Like you've said yourself: Every baby is different. But for what it's worth, here are my two cents. :)

    We used a bassinet for three weeks, and I personally would never do it again. With her sleeping six inches from my head, I heard every noise she made and it just wasn't necessary (because it was causing me to NOT SLEEP!). Now, granted, we have a very small house - so I was only walking to the next room to get her in the night. So, that's completely a judgment call for you to make.

    Mine hated the swing, tolerated the bouncer.

    Regarding the breast pump: My advice is to not open it until you're sure that breastfeeding works for you. We rented a hosptial pump for two weeks after she was born because my milk hadn't come in. And it never did. So luckily, the $250 pump I purchased was able to be returned because it was never opened. Whew!

  4. And oh! Those middle of the night changes? Either on the end of the bed or the couch, wherever I happened to be nursing. I had a caddy of diapers and wipes out there, and a waterproof pad and it was a whole lot easier than bringing the baby to the changing table in the middle of the night.

  5. The only thing we bought new and spent a lot of money on is the crib. It is a convertible one so our hope is that even if the baby doesn't like it initially, as a toddler, that's his bed.

    Other things - pack n play with a bassinet, a cosleeper for our bed, a swing, a bouncer - all was bought off of Craigslit for 50-75% off. That way, I'll try it all on him and use what works and sell the rest abck on Craigslist or Freecycle it. Reall, from everything I've heard, there's going to be a lot of trial and error!

    Best advice given to me by the dad of a 1 yr old this weekend: There are 300 ways to raise your child and barring abusive ones, they are all correct AND don't let anyone tell you you're doing it wrong.

    The one advice I keep getting over and voer gaian from eveyone is that hospitals will let you rent different breastpumps, try them and then buy the one that works the best.

  6. Oh, and changing table, the unanimous advic I've heard is that a cahnging tables that's just a changing table is a waste of money. One that is on top of a dresser is useful ebcuase of the dresser. So, we just bought a crib/changer combo where the changer can be removed and disposed off for the toddler bed conversion.

  7. As a non-mom, I have no idea. But you will figure it out. And when I have a kid I'll know the perfect person to turn to for all the answers!

  8. Ok, I'm not a Mom, nor will I be a Mom anytime in the near future. But, I have a Mom! And here was her thing:

    Allegedly (cause I sure don't remember), I slept in some sort of bassinet for the first few months until I could sleep through the night. As soon as I slept through the night,I was in my own room in a crib. My mom swears by this.

    The thing is, I was a babysitter for a little girl who, at 5 years old, still used a passie and slept in her parent's bed. I know there are some out there who support that, but I don't. I think sooner than later a child should be accustomed to sleeping by themselves in a big bed. Why wait?

    So that's my non-parental two cents.

  9. Our kids were in a Moses Basket in our room for the first 4 months then moved into the crib. I liked hearing all the noises they made. During the day, they slept in the Moses basket close to wherever I was and, when they outgrew that, just on a blanket on the carpet or in their crib. I think something to sit them in is essential - a bouncy seat, swing or even car seat will do. I wouldn't buy too much baby stuff - it all becomes 'stuff I have to store for the next kid'!

  10. Two caveats - I hate too much stuff around my house so wanted the bare minimum, and I have strong opinions on the fear the baby industry instills in new parents. So with that out there:

    We put him in the crib from day one - we have a pack n' play with bassinet downstairs for changing, playing, the occasional nap, but I wanted to be able to sleep so he's in his own room. That and, it's my experience that if the bassinet lasts longer than the first month or two, it becomes a habit, and I wanted Mr. B and my relationship to remain our priority in the bedroom...

    We borrowed a swing and bought a bouncer. Doesn't love the swing yet, okay in the bouncer for shorter periods of time.

    And yeah, burping and changing gets you out of bed anyway, but go with whatever you're comfortable with.

  11. I chimed in on Twitter last night but here's my assvice in 140+ characters: I think it's good to have options, especially in the first 6-8 weeks when sleep is at a premium and the “whatever works” mantra is your friend. We were lucky and got almost all of our gear from my sister so we didn't buy much and even though everything is on its 4th kid it all works like new.

    My daughter tolerated the swing (the only thing we DID purchase) for all of about 10 min. She loved the bouncy seat. My son (3 months old) loves both the swing and the bouncy seat. Both slept in the hand-be-down bassinet in our room for the first 5-9 weeks. Not a ton of time, but it made my sleeping way better. I sat up, fed the kid, changed her/him on the bed (with a waterproof pad I kept nearby), burped the kid and I was back asleep in no time, not ever having to out of bed. I will say that with my 1st my husband did sleep in the guest room for a few nights just so he wouldn't wake up. But even when the baby is in its own room, the hubby will wake up if you have a monitor. I was on leave so I took daytime naps, he couldn’t. And for a 2-story house, a monitor is very handy. I think video monitors breed parents who stare at the feed and really, until the kid is a toddler and can get out of bed, what do you need to see?

    Almost all pack-n-plays have the bassinet attachment (which brings the base/mattress up higher in the playpen) which is a nice thing to have in your living area during the first 3-4 months. Plus, if you plan on traveling at all I think a pack-n-play is a “must”.

    Breastpump – buy but don’t open so you can return if needed. Search for deals. I got mine from ebay – new/sealed/warranted 4 years ago. It was the previous Medela Pump In Style model and was about $70 cheaper then the model that was in the stores at the time. I’m using it again for my son and Medela just replaced a part for free.

    Cloth diapers – I love Fuzzi Bunz but any cloth are a great investment. My advice (as passed to me by another mama): get a few (6-8), don’t start until the baby is a few weeks old and you feel life is a little less chaotic all the time, then if you like them buy more. If not, there is a good resale on them so you won’t be out a ton of cash if it’s not your thing. Also, check with daycares as some won’t use them.

    Register for the world – people may surprise you. Then, seek out your local baby resale shop to pick up the things you didn’t get as gifts. Seriously. You can save a TON of money and just about everything can be sterilized/washed/disinfected and if your baby rejects it you won’t feel like it’s a loss of money. And I really do thing that some things were made of better quality materials even a few years ago. All this said, if you plan on having another kid down the line, the cost becomes a little easier to take since you know you’ll get more use out of everything.

  12. I couldn't sleep with B in the same room with me. He was too loud and kept me awake. You really just have to wait, and then just do whatever gets your kid to sleep the longest. Have you ever read She has lots of good parenting discussions.

    We didn't buy a bouncy seat until after B was born, and we bought it at a consignment shop. He was totally indifferent about the bouncing/vibrating aspects, but it was nice for me to have a place to put him other than the floor. We never got a swing because he didn't seem to need one.

    If you register now, will those things still be available in a few months? I know they change the prints/designs relatively often.

  13. Oh! It is interesting that the whole '6 months in parent's room' is not in those reports. I was under the impression that it was common knowledge and not...political. This is just my opinion, but I tend to look to other countries pr WHO for what makes the most sense with babies. American culture just doesn't make sense to me sometimes. So, I tend to keep the baby close, breastfeed, etc. Plus, the very high infant mortality rate in our country scares me. But this is just my opinion and the world is big enough for plenty of folks to disagree. :)

    We have a bassinet in our room. We also have all the stuff we need for diapering and stuff in our room as well, so there is no wandering through the house in the middle of the night while you are addled with lack of sleep.

    My babies have all liked the bouncy seat and the swing. Maybe if you are not convinced you would really use such things, you could buy them at a place with a nice return policy and keep the receipts? I have never been the type to have all the gadgets (hello wipe warmer?) so really used all the baby gear I got.

  14. Ooh! Baby sleep questions! My favorite, esp. now that my babies are 5 and 8 and sleep through the night 98% of the time (and I'm not always aware of that last 2%).

    My first child was not a great sleeper and was DETERMINED and DESPERATE to be with someone every night (this is still true, alas). Cry it out was not an option. He slept with us until I couldn't stand it any longer, and then he slept in his carseat beside our bed (we had a futon on the floor at the time). Later he had a pack-n-play that he slept in until he woke up around 2 am, at which point there was no sleep for anyone until me or Mike went and brought him into our room (slash bed. We had a very crowded bed for a while).

    My second child slept four to five hours at a stretch starting on the day she was born, which was a gift I did not examine. Cry it out worked wonderfully for her. She slept in her carseat and then the pack-n-play, and we would put her down awake, she would fuss or cry for about five minutes, and then she would conk off to sleep like some Ferber dream baby.

    We stopped changing pee diapers in the middle of the night very early on (they're absorbent! they're MEANT to last through the night). Also, our babies weren't gassy, generally, so we didn't do much middle-of-the-night burping.

    The sum total of our bedtime equipment: a carseat, a pack-n-play (my husband had a childhood nightmare thing against cribs--otherwise we would have had a crib, which is SO much easier on your back), a mobile changing station, and a swing (for baby 1--the swing made baby 2 scream).

    Oh, also? For baby 1? A pacifier.

  15. We have had two babies, and are thinking of a third and have many of the same questions. The thing is, as you mentioned, you don't really know.

    My first slept in a bassinet by our bed quite well for the first three months and then transitioned into a crib in her own room - shortly after, she started sleeping through the night. This led me to assume, we had been keeping her up at nights.

    Our second slept in our bed for the first six weeks because she had horrible HORRIBLE reflux and it always sounded like she was drowning and I couldn't sleep unless she was RIGHT THERE. Then she transitioned to the bassinet portion of a pack and play, and then just the pack and play and slept at the foot of our bed in it until she was six months old - then transitioned into a crib in a seperate room.

    My advice, as Nilsa and others mentioned, is if you really have no idea what you (or the baby) will REALLY want or need then get the pack and play. If you do any traveling/camping you will want it, plus it IS handy for when the child is older and you want them to sleep somewhere else (such as your downstairs). Plus, if you decide you want something else a month in - you can always add a co-sleeper, etc. and still use the play yard. We never had a play yard with our first and it would have made life so much easier.

    I have never used a bouncy sweat, but my oldest loved her swing. We got a travel swing, which is less expensive and doesn't take up as much room (plus we traveled A TON with our first).

    Breast pump is, in my opinion, the most important and personal of all of these. You can always rent a hospital grade one from Babies R US for a month and then buy it if you like it.

    Oh, my, I wrote way too much! These questions have consumed my life these past two years, can you tell ?!?!

  16. Sorry, one more thing - where ever you buy your large purchases from, ask them how they handle recalls. They seem to be recalling everything ALL THE TIME. I did heaps of research on each product we bought and chose fairly well-respected companies, and our crib and bassinet both were recalled (at different times). And our bassinet was recalled THE DAY BEFORE the birth of our second.

    We had purchased both from Walmart because of their FREE SHIPPING OFFER compared to Babies R' Us and they allowed us to just walk the product in, hand it to them, and they gave us cash. With the bassinet, I didn't even have a receipt. I believe Babies R' Us has a similar policy.

    Friends of ours bought the same crib elsewhere, and they had to MAIL in the parts to the company and it was a HUGE hassle, especially when dealing with a $450 plus item that doesn't exactly fit well into the trunk of your car.

    Ok, I'm done now I promise.

  17. My daughter slept in our room at night in a cradle. Once she became too large for that, she switched to the pack n' play. BUT she also slept during the day in the bouncer seat (would NOT sleep anywhere else) and when she had a cold, she slept in her car seat by my side of the bed so she could be elevated.

    We didn't plan for any one specific way for her to sleep.

    We did buy a co-sleeper that fit between our pillows and used that.

    I also fell asleep a million times with her on the boppy pillow on my lap, nursing her, because you are in a fog sometimes. It's part of it.

    We transitioned her to her crib around 9 months. I blogged about all of this if you want to check out past posts.

    Good luck!

  18. Ugh. This is a topic I am thoroughly tired of (not because of you, mind you, so no offense intended). My brother in law's girlfriend still sleeps with her 5 month old baby. This psychology major is trying to get her baby to only be able to sleep with her in the bed (not that she's told us, but in everything she does with him, it makes it painfully clear). Personally, I think I would roll over and crush the child, but to each her own, and she is a small girl/woman/whatever.

    Anyway, I know that you guys will make the right decision based on your own child's needs/wants/desires/etc. I hope you guys don't worry too much, because it will come and you guys will make decisions based on what you think is right :) But I definitely feel you, because I am the same kind of planning way.

    Bouncy chair = wonderful, bassinet = i think would be a good investment in addition to a crib, especially during the early months and Craigslist can be your best friend. Good luck with it all; I know it's a lot to wade through :)

  19. this is all FASCINATING! and omg so overwhelming holy heck. am very interested to see what you pick and what piglet ends up liking!!

  20. Here's my thoughts:

    -set up a changing/nursing station on your first floor- have the tv remote, a phone, laptop and cords to plug in, books/magazines, even snacks and water bottles, and stuff for baby (diapers, wipes, burp clothes, maybe a change of clothes). You will spend an incredible amount of time breastfeeding in the beginning, so you want a couple places in your home set up for you to be comfortable.

    -newborns will nap in lots of places. If you use the bouncy seat mostly upstairs, you can use the carseat downstairs.

    -besides your crib mattress and car seat, everything else can be borrowed (if you have friends w/ kids) or bought 2nd hand. I KNOW it's fun, the first time around, to buy fun new stuff, but things like the baby bath tub, bouncy seat, and swing, they LITERALLY use for only a few months.

    -I found that I DID love sleeping with my baby, when my 3rd was born and there was only ONE of her. Dr. Sears ( has advise about safe cosleeping, if you find yourself in that position like I did. We did it exclusively for the first 6 months with her and she transitioned to her crib without a problem.

    -But even if you don't end up cosleeping, keeping baby close at night is wise. For one thing, you will share sleep cycles, so when baby starts to wake up you won't be in a deep sleep. Trust me, it's SO MUCH easier to get up from an already sorta-awake state than from a dead sleep. (Isn't it cool that our sleep cycles will sync up like that?) ALSO, you will hear baby before baby gets super upset AND you don't have to fully rouse yourself if baby is close, so neither of you will be all the way awake, which makes getting baby and yourself back to sleep easier.

    Finally, two things to remember: 1. you'll figure out what works. You will. and 2. don't worry so much about "starting a bad habit". Yes, there are lots of stories about kids still needing to be rocked to sleep at age 7 or whatever, but I promise, for the most part, your kid will adapt to whatever lifestyle your family chooses. So really, don't worry about "starting something"... just enjoy your babe!

  21. Congratulations!!!

    We did get a crib for our daughter, but didn't use it until she was 7 months old. We bought a pack-n-play with the bassinet attachment (playyard, playpen, etc) and she slept in that at that foot of our bed. It was excellent. Our bedrooms were in the basement at the time and it was much easier to grab her from there, change her (just kept spare diapers, wipes and a change pad on my night table) and we were good to go. Unfortunately, I was not able to nurse, but my husband would go up to the kitchen and get her formula ready while I changed her. The play yard was also nice because we could easily pack it up and take it with us if we went to to visit the in-laws or if she stayed over night at my parent's place.

    We did get a swing when she was three weeks old. I wish we had gotten it sooner than that, and I would get one again. Every child is different with regards to them and some love 'em and some hate 'em. As a PP mentioned Craig's List and Kijiji can be your best friends because you can buy almost anything at a fraction of new. I would definitely recommend one that can be plugged in over one that relies solely on batteries. If your Piglet does love it, you will pay through the nose to keep that thing going on batteries. This is what we had and it was nice to be able to switch the direction of the swing because our daughter hated the side to side motion but loved front to back.

  22. Oh yeah, and check out consigment stores for kids...I get almost everything (clothes and shoes wise for my daughter there)

  23. OK, here's my two cents, because you haven't gotten enough advice or anything.

    1. Invest in a quality baby monitor. Sound or video. Doesn't matter, as long as you're comfortable and it's reliable.

    2. You're going to need a Pack n Play for traveling, so go ahead and get one and you can use it as a bassinet in your room. That way you're not spending money on a separate bassinet when you don't need to.

    3. Get a bouncy seat AND a swing. And look for a swing that PLUGS IN. Trust me. You'll go broke buying C batteries for the swing if you don't. (Fisher Price has one.)

    4. Both of my kids slept in the Pack n Play in our room for the first two weeks after they were born. (They napped on us during the day.) Then, we started a bedtime routine and put them to sleep at night in their crib. We slept better because babies are LOUD with their snorts and grunts and other noises and having them out of our room made it so much quieter. I trusted our monitor so I didn't feel like they needed to be RIGHT THERE at night. I get up to feed them in their rooms so that they don't wake all the way up.

    5. Invest in a comfy seating area for you. Some folks like a glider/rocker, but we have actual couches in our kids' rooms. An end table with a lamp and clock makes it easier for me when I'm feeding them.

    6. Maddie hated the bouncy seat and slept only in her swing for 5 weeks. Sam hates the swing and the bouncy seat. He only sleeps in his crib or in our arms. But if you have one of each, then you're covered no matter which your kid prefers.

    7. Once your baby is sleeping in the crib, you can use the Pack n Play downstairs for naps or whatev.

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  25. I am so excited by this topic I couldn't even read your post as carefully as I would normally do before giving advice, so I hope you'll forgive me if in my over-excitement I earnestly advise you to do something you've JUST SAID YOU'RE ALREADY DOING.

    (Also, I just tried to post it and I got the "comment too large" error for the first time ever, so I'm going to break it into chunks and try again.) (Make the comment SHORTER? No, that solution did not occur to me.)

    All but one of my babies loved the vibrating bouncy seat---and the fifth one, Henry, liked the bouncy seat but just didn't like the vibration. I didn't have a swing for my first baby (not enough room in our apartment), and it was the BEST THING for the next four kids. Both the bouncy seat and the swing are great for the baby to sleep in when he/she has a cold and needs to have his/her head elevated.

    I worked in the infant room of a daycare, and there, MOST babies liked the swings and MOST babies liked the bouncy seats. In fact, we had to have policies about how much time babies could spend in swings and bouncy seats.


  26. ...

    Most babies liked playgyms. I recommend getting the kind that looks like a swingset (as opposed to the kind with an arch or two arches attached to a floor mat), because the floor mat gets grubby and it's easy to use an easy-to-wash blankie instead; and also because the swingset style can go over the bouncy seat too. I STRONGLY recommend (this is really more like INSISTING) that it be the kind where you can CHANGE THE TOYS. We got one where the toys could never be removed and no other toys could be attached, and that lasted only until the baby got tired of those three toys. If you can change the toys, the thing lasts FOREVER. This Cariboo one is gorgeous, and you could use plastic links (like these---they're also good for attaching a toy to a stroller or shopping cart or car seat) to hook on new toys. This other one is more sensibly priced, though not as beautiful. ...Wait. This has nothing to do with what you were asking. Screw it, I'm leaving it in.

    I like to have "a place to put the baby down" in every room I possibly can. It surprised me at first, how they can't just be put down anywhere. Well, they CAN, but it feels weird to put the baby on the kitchen floor. Bouncy seats are great for this because they're easy to grab and carry with you. I'd have one for upstairs and one for down.

    My mom took care of a baby for awhile, and she used a flatbed stroller---you know, like the infant kind in old-fashioned books, where it's like a bassinet on wheels? Then she could bring the baby wherever she went (on that floor of the house).

  27. ...

    One of my friends used a Moses basket. She used it as a bassinet, and also used it for carrying the baby with her from room to room. When she took a shower, she brought the basket into the bathroom so she could peek out at the baby.

    I ended up preferring to have a non-bedroom set-up for nighttime. I had all my stuff (nursing pillows, book, water bottle) next to my comfy recliner, so I would go out there for nighttime nursings, maybe snooze a little in the chair but I found it easier to avoid frustration at night if I was UP instead of lying in bed as if I could sleep.

    Also, when the baby sleeps close to me, I wake up with a startle every time the baby snorts---or when the baby had gone too long without snorting, and then I'd have to lie awake, heart pounding, waiting to hear a breath. Exhausting.

    I had a bin out in the living room with a changing pad (not a padded kind, just a fabric-covered plastic sheet thing), diapers, wipes, and a fresh sleeper, so then I could change the baby out there too.

    The thing is, sometimes what the baby is doing in the middle of the night is CRYING. And it's nice to have a separate place NOT in your room for that to happen.

    If you have friends with small children, or if you have access to Freecycle, you can borrow things or get things for free to try them out. Things like bassinets, especially, that get used for such a very short amount of time and are usually still in perfect condition. Or front-pack carriers, which are either great and the baby loves it, or else they break your back and the baby hates it.

    I've heard lots of people say they couldn't live without their pack-'n'-play, but ours was a total waste of money---the one thing we bought that was just pure waste. It took up as much space as a crib almost, and the baby didn't want to sleep in it, and he sure didn't want to play in there by himself, soooo.....useless for us. But then, we didn't travel with him either.

    I've never heard that thing about the baby sleeping in the parents' room being good for SIDS prevention.

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  32. Welp, could I have made that ANY MESSIER? It kept telling me it WASN'T posting, but it WAS. Cleaning up as best I can now.

  33. Also, I second all the other commenters who said you'll be doing whatever works for the first few months. Seriously. It's all about survival. You can't screw up their sleep habits in the first couple of months.

  34. Oh, the sleeping thing. Prepare however you want and the Piglet will decide. We bought the Pack & Play with the bassinet for our bedroom and a crib for the nursery. Madeline spent the first three weeks of her life sleeping in bed with me (ONLY me) on a flat fitted sheet, nothing else. (I wasn't sleeping much anyway). After that she slept in her carseat (yes, her little bucket carseat) until she was 3 months old. It was the only place she'd sleep, so I parked her right next to my side of the bed and went with it.

    We had both a bouncy seat and a swing. To optimize, we bought a bouncy that could transition into a rocker, which Madeline still loves and uses (she's 2.5yrs). They actually have some now (Fisher Price?) that do all three - swing, bouncy, and eventual rocker.

    Breast pump: Medela Pump In Style. Hands down. I pumped exclusively for 10 months with that thing and it was so, so good to me. I love it.

    Changing the baby... I had two changing tables, one for each floor of the house. It seemed a little unnecessary, but I was given one for free so I figured why not? It was AWESOME when Madeline was first home; I'd had a c-section and bending was unpleasant. So that was great. The bigger she got, though, the more I just used the ottoman or any other flat surface... a basket full of changing supplies in a handy location will get you so far. That's pretty much all you need.

    As far as sleeping in the same room... I believe that it may help with SIDS. I'd read something similar. Having Madeline in her carseat next to my bed was hugely reassuring - I could hear her, and when I was extra worried I could reach down and feel the rise/fall of her little chest. I'm thinking that a bassinet or a co-sleeper would accomplish the same thing. I loved having her in our room at first; by 3 months I felt like I knew her and her habits enough to have her in a separate room.

    Love how you're planning - and what you're doing with the registry is exactly what I did. It's the best way to weed through all the stuff out there!

  35. I'm not a mom, so all I can say is good luck! You should check out They have a 9-week old and have posted some about their must-have stuff.

    From watching my friends and being a nanny, what I've really learned is babies don't need all of that STUFF that so many parents buy. A SMALL box of toys, a bassinet/cradle, and a mattress on the floor (for when they outgrow the bassinet/cradle) work superbly! Babies don't need all of that plastic garbage. You're super organized though, so I know you'll be a great mom and do what is best for you and your family.

  36. I haven't got to this point yet (the pregnancy part, that is) but we have already agreed that apart from the crib (which Tim wants to make himself, bless) we will try to get what we can secondhand/free from small ads/friends/family because, as you say, you kinda need to have lots of options until you know your baby. I'm sure we'll end up buying lots too but it's amazing what's out there for the taking in barely used condition.

  37. The thing I hated about baby gear was that I felt like I spent a ton of money on things we didn't need or used very seldomly: bassinet, bouncer, etc. My advice? Buy a pack-n-play, similar to this:

    This is what we used exclusively for the first three months. We had a brand new changing table, brand new bassinet, etc and this? Was a lifesaver. We kept it next to our bed and since we put our bed on risers, we were able to clearly see our baby. He slept in the top napper for about 2 weeks and then we moved him to the bassinet, part, where he remained for 3 months, when we transitioned him to his own room. Then the bassinet part just lays flat on the bottom of the pack-n-play, so he slept that way up until he was 12 months and LOVED it. He's just now using his crib (we moved when he was 4 weeks and the crib was still in storage at our old house). I HIGHLY recommend a similarly set-up pack-n-play. Even the diaper changing station was great until he started rolling over, then we just used the floor.

    Anyway, I'm just a long-time lurker, but that's what worked great for us.

  38. I got so excited to come over here and comment and everything I would have said has already been said. Is that going to stop me? NOPE!

    First of all, don't wait to get things until the baby is here. You'll be exhausted and overwhelmed and the last thing you'll want to do is shop and put things together. Promise.

    The pack and play is totally worth the investment. I keep my kids in my room for a few months. It has an attached changing table and can be used later for traveling, or just having a safe place to put a semi-mobile baby when you need to pee or run to the mail box.

    I have loved both my swing and my bouncy seat. Your baby may love or hate them, but you can always resell on Craig's List. I actually have a swing and two bouncy seats, so it's nice to have a place in every room, as Swistle said, to put the baby. I like to be able to see my babies all the time when they're little and didn't want to cart a seat up and down stairs all day long.


    Also, I would like to recommend the book Baby Bargains. It is chock full of recommendations and reviews of all sorts of baby products. They are constantly releasing a new version with updated information. You will eat it up.

  39. I have a moses bassinet that I can carry all about the house for when they're little littles. And my first daughter slept in our room for one night before being shipped off to her crib in her own room. She slept best that way. My second daughter slept in our room for the first six months (she had respiratory issues) and eventually was carted off to her room by my husband. Baby one loved loved loved to sleep in the swing. Baby two? Not so much. Both hated the bouncer. With the passion of a fire from a thousand suns. What we ended up doing is buying things from Target or BabiesRUs and keeping the boxes (in a closet). We took the bouncer back. With both babies. Heh. They looove us.

    Honestly, packnplay is a must. At least for us. We use it when we travel and it can be set up in any room pronto. Plus we also used it as a changing table (when I wasn't just plopping said baby down on the floor somewhere).

    You will get up. That's pretty inevitable. But in terms of must haves for the newbie, my vote is: crib (expensive cribs confuse me. target. hundred bucks.), packnplay, moses basket, swing (even a miniature sized one is handy, and breast-pump.

  40. Honestly, we had one of everything. That's what baby showers are for.
    I do LOVE my co-sleeper, but my babies have also all slept with me and it's nice to have them right next to the bed for middle of the night nursings.
    Some of my babies have loved sleeping in their infant sleep, some in the swing, and/or bouncy, on me, in a sling, in their crib, etc.
    It's like a guessing game, huh?

    Try craigslist or friends who are done having kids, or local consignment sales, for gently used stuff you don't receive at the baby shower. :)

  41. To clarify: The sleeping in the parents' room thing is a rec that came out of the American Academy of Pediatrics right after a positive study on co-sleeping came out. Now, AAP frowns upon co-sleeping, so they had to compromise. There are SO many things that went into this, and my thoughts on co-sleeping are long and rather boring (short version: I'm a fan, but ONLY if the infant is breastfed and you know what you're doing, safety-wise).

    That being said, Sam slept with me for many, many months, but Sam was a Speshul Infant with colic, screaming and reflux and ... well, lots of things.

    THAT BEING SAID. I slept with her in my room and/or with me for six months, then she moved to her own room.

    I have a co-sleeper (Arm's Reach) that converts to an awesome pack n' play, and that's what I plan to use for the second baby, should there be one. And I plan to put the kidlet in my room because it IS easier to have the kid next to you if you're nursing. If you're not nursing, YMMV.

    You will figure it out! Everyone does. If it helps at all, I'll tell you that we OVER bought. When it came down to it, at first, all my baby needed was a pack 'n play, diapers, pajamas and ... my boobs.

  42. Jess, I was one of the crazy Twitter people responding to you last night, but wanted to still chime in here.

    Very quickly you and Torsten will become the best experts on little Piglet! I know it's hard to figure out what will work best for you when you hear all differing opinions...I say take it all in, think about what might work best for you guys given the setup of your house, etc., and decide how you want to start off. You can always change/adapt your plan after you learn what works best for Piglet.

    For us, we had a pack and play bassinet in our room, which is on the first floor of our house (like you, we did not want to have the baby in our bed, and we stuck with that-she was mere inches from me though, I pulled it right up to my side of the bed!). Then, we had the proper crib up in the nursery on the second floor. That is all we had to start. I think we thought we would pull the pack and play into the living room or other areas as needed originally. Then, we realized that while the pack and play is easy to take down and move around on its own, when you put the bassinet in the top, it's a pain to take all that down when you want to move it, and unfortunately, it was wider than the door to our bedroom, so it stayed put there.

    Luckily, my baby was and is a champion sleeper, so at first, I just laid her down by me on the couch on her sleep incline from the bassinet or her Boppy, and that was fine. Then, my parents bought her a bouncy chair and she slept in that great too. I also ordered a moses basket, just because I saw one that was really pretty, a few weeks after she was born. What was nice about the bouncy chair and the moses basket was portability. I couldn't drag the pack and play into the bathroom while I tried to get in a quick shower, but I could lay her in the moses basket or strap her in the bouncy chair asleep right outside the shower door, so that if she started to wake and cry, I knew immediately and could hop out to see to her. They allowed me to be doing things in other rooms with her safely sleeping right nearby.

    We used the pack and play bassinet for about seven months solid. We were going to move her upstairs to her crib at four months, but then my pediatrician told us to keep her in our room until six months due to SIDS. Then our daughter had a bout of ear infections at the six-month mark, so we waited until she got over that to move her. She did fine, since she slept in a regular crib at school and napped in the crib in her room mostly at that point. She outgrew the bouncy chair between four and six months and it currently holds toys for her in the corner of our bedroom, although I am getting ready to donate it to the baby room at her school. When she outgrew the pretty moses basket, I moved it to her room and filled it with her stuffed animals. Sometimes she climbs in there with them and it looks like the scene with E.T. hiding among Gertie's dolls in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial!

    We bought her a swing for Christmas when she was four months old, and that was kind of late to get one. She only used it for about two months, so if you think you really like one of those, I'd have it from the get go, because unlike the moses basket, you can't really use it for anything else afterwards. I'm going to try to sell mine to a kids resale shop.

    So that is how things went for me with my baby...hope it gives you a few things to consider as you work on your registry list!

    And along those lines, while I'm writing a book here, you don't have to have everything when the baby is born. For example, you won't use your highchair until the baby starts eating solids, which is usually around four to six months depending on the baby (baby has to double its birth weight to start eating solids), so you can always hold off on getting that. Or you can put it on your registry and someone may give it to you beforehand, which works too!

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  51. My opinions, for what they are worth:
    Yes, you will most likely want a pack-n-play or something else for the baby to sleep in downstairs. It will make it easier for you in the beginning when the baby naps a lot, and it's "better" for the baby to sleep on a flat surface rather than in a seat (according to the stuff I've read, anyway). Plus, the pack-n-play is great for when you are visiting people. Ours basically lives in the car trunk these days. Of course, baby can just sleep on a blanket on the floor too, as long as Montana will leave him/her alone.
    We had a bassinet in our room for the first couple months (until he grew out of it, basically), and I liked it mostly because I liked having him that close for my own peace of mind. I wouldn't spend a bunch of money on one, though. Can you borrow one from a friend, or buy one on Craigslist? Since you don't use it very long I don't think it's an item worth investing a lot of money in.
    We changed him before feeding him because he spit up a lot and laying him down right after eating seemed to trigger that even more. We would change him on our bed. It's at a good height, and we don't get poop or anything on the bed itself. Although (and I'm sure you've heard this) you will want to watch out; I almost got nailed by a diaperless poop when James was a baby. He hasn't done that again, though. :)
    Also, getting up within your own room and getting up and having to go to a different room are drastically different mentally when you are that tired. At least they were to me. James's room is just across the hall from us, but I still felt like it was a lot further.
    Well, that's probably enough rambling. I can't wait till you have the cloth diaper discussion. We use cd's, and we love them! I'm trying to convince all my new-mom friends that are remotely interested to just do it!

  52. the only thing i can say for certainty is: you can't plan for any of it. hard to accept, but really you won't know what is going to work for you until the piglet arrives. we had decided that we wouldn't co-sleep: he ended up with us in bed more often than not. we decided he would nap in the crib: he ended up on the double bed buffered by pillows. we decided on cloth: after 6 months he was in disposable.

    do worry yourself sick by trying to figure it out before piglet arrives. you will do what works for you when he/she arrives. and remember, you do what works for you. not what you think is what everyone thinks you should be doing. for me sleep was the most important thing, so i did whatever it took to get the jellybean to sleep so that i could get some too.

    on another note, are there any consignment shops around you? or anything like craigs list? it's the best way to by babygear. i didn't have anything new, except for the stuff from my babyshower. and then i even got some used stuff from friends. all so very much appreciated. it's the best and most economical was to go. and environmentally friendly too!

    good luck!

  53. I don't have a clue! (There, I said it.) But I struggle with wishlists in general - we haven't even decided where or what to do for a wedding registry yet, or if it'll even be used.

  54. Late to the party (as usual), but I do have comments, so despite the lateness, here they are. With all four of my kids, I had a crib in their own room for naps and when they were sleeping through the night. I never bought a bassinet for our bedroom, because I killed two birds with one stone and used a pack-and-play thing in our bedroom, so that we also had a portable crib for traveling, taking to outings, etc.

    As for something downstairs, I had a bouncy seat and a swing that I moved from room to room as necessary... the baby often slept in them... but before you know it, he/she will be on a regular nap schedule and you'll be able to put him/her down upstairs and just monitor with a baby monitor.

    I think after four kids, if I were to get pregnant again (let's hope not, since I am WAY TOO TIRED for that), my list of MUST HAVES would include crib, pack-and-play, bouncy seat and swing.

  55. I registered for this and got it:

    I am still cooking my first, but my sister has used it for her 7 month old since I have no use for it just yet. She has 3 kids. She LOVES this. She has a bassinet that I am getting to use as well, but she totally prefers this item as it is lightweight so it can be moved up and down stairs daily, it keeps the babe at an incline in case of illness, and it rocks.

    My 2 cents.

  56. Every one I know has used a swing/bouncy seat at some point and garage sales, Freecycle, or Craig's List are good places to check for cheap(er) items - at least to start with.
    A pack 'n' play is great when you live in a two-story...although running up and down the stairs a million times for diaper changes can be a good weight-loss technique... :)
    Our basic system at night has been: keep baby in our room, in pack 'n' play or in our bed (whichever turned out to be more convenient at the time - at first we had vowed to NEVER co-sleep), baby cries, DAD gets up and changes diaper, mom feeds, forgets to burp baby, puts baby back in sleeping arrangement.
    This is THE single most-used baby item we ever purchased - it's perfect for quick trips out and even more perfect to use on an airplane - plus you don't have to worry about laying your baby on dirty public changing tables:
    Skip Hop makes a similar (but slightly more expensive) product - I think Target carries them.

  57. I just had my third baby 3 months ago.... and I love reading your posts about all things baby! Very exciting for you!
    My first 2 girls HATED the swing. Would scream when they were put in it. I gave it away thinking "what are the chances the third will like it?" She LOVES IT! It's the only place she'll sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and she'll fall asleep by herself in it, as opposed to being nursed to sleep.
    Our first house had 2 stories, you'll definitely want a pack n play or something downstairs to put the baby in so you're not up and down all the time.
    We had a co-sleeper in our room and crib in the nursery. Worked out great. I will say that you don't need to change their diapers all the time in the middle of the night unless it's poop. Just wakes them up more and that's the last thing you want to encourage!
    Really, you won't know what the baby likes until you try. It's frustrating. All 3 of my girls are so incredibly different, it's like they came from different parents!
    Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy and a speedy labor/delivery!